The Wonder of Wool!
Fact: Scientists can not replicate wool in a laboratory – this natural fibre is totally unique!
Since the Stone Age, wool has been appreciated as one of the most effective forms of all-weather protection known to man. Even before shears were invented, wool would have been harvested using a comb or just plucked out by hand. Wool is a protein fibre formed in the skin of sheep, and every year sheep will produce a new fleece; making wool a renewable fibre source.
As well as being a natural, renewable product, wool has many other amazing qualities...
1. It is a natural insulator and breathable; thanks to millions of tiny air pockets, and its ability to absorb and release moisture
2. Wool fibres are strong and elastic; they can be bent back repeatedly without breaking, and their crimped structure allows the fibres to stretch then return to their natural shape, which is why they make such great jumpers.
3. Wool constantly reacts to changes in body temperature; It keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer (no wonder sheep wear it!)
4. Wool has a waxy coating called lanolin on its fibres; this helps keep the sheep dry out on the hills. Jumpers made from wool with high levels of lanolin left in it have been used for centuries to help waterproof us too - Aran wool sweaters worn by fishermen are one example of this.
5. Wool doesn't have qualities that encourage the growth of bacteria; it therefore tends to not get as smelly as other textiles when worn. It is even sometimes described as self cleaning as it doesn't hold onto stains either.
6. Wool is biodegradable. When it is no longer useful to us it can be returned to the ground, where it will break down quickly, releasing valuable nutrients back into the earth.
Britain probably has the largest range of native sheep breeds in the world, and our wool industry dates back over 2000 years. Sadly, sheep farming is in decline, and it is thought that numbers of sheep grazing in Britain has halved in the last 20 years.